I have a birthday coming up soon. These days, I tend to approach them with some measure of dread.
It is not, as you may suppose, because I am well past forty and rapidly heading towards the next significant birthday. I have learned from previous experience that those decade celebrations can be an opportunity for growth – a chance to be a little bit braver and to venture a little bit further out of my comfort zone.
No, I awake on my birthday with the ever-present shadow of knowledge that my sister‘s birthday will come five days after mine. And less than a month after that it will be my niece’s birthday and a mere eleven days after that, we will once more live through the reminder of that awful day when they were both taken from us without warning.
By then, all the signs of Christmas approaching will surround us and we will endure the lead up knowing there will always be those empty places at the Christmas table.
I am grateful to have another birthday. Truly. I am grateful to be fit and healthy and that I possess a body and mind that do what I ask of them (mostly). I have a family to love and who love me and I live a good life. There is much to be celebrated at the end of another year on this earth.
But my birthday will always be the day that signals the beginning of the hardest time of the year for me.
I’m not suggesting that you not say “Happy Birthday” if you’d like to but only that you understand why your good wishes may be greeted with a sad smile and an awkward “Thank you”.